Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sugiyama's emotional goodbye ceremony

So guys, an era has come to an end and there's nothing left but tears and good memories. Ai Sugiyama has decided to retire from professional tennis. For many of us, it will be really sureal to look at a draw and not to see the name Sugiyama in it. Ai has the all-time record, for both male and female players, for the most consecutive Grand Slam main draw appearances which currently stands at 62. I'm sure, she could easily extend that number, but what for? She felt it is the right time to say goodbye and so she is leaving us.

Ai decided to end her long and successful career in Tokio in front of her home crowd. It was kinda ironic, that the player, who I honestly never remember retiring in a match, had to give up in the middle of the second set against Nadia Petrova. Surely, she had other plans, but as Alanis Morissette once sung - "It's like rain on your wedding day" - " life has a funny way of sneaking up on you".

Sugiyama's list of achievements is endless. You wouldn't think otherwise - after 17 years on Tour. She was No. 1 in doubles, winning 38 titles (three Grand Slams) and reached No.8 in singles, collecting 6 titles. The most memorable of those all, came in Scottsdale in 2003, where she had to play four matches in one day and won them all. She started with her singles semifinal against Alexandra Stevenson, in which she saved three match points, eventually prevailing 6/7; 6/2; 7/6. Than she came up against Kim Clijsters. Once again she came from behind, as the Belgium was 2 points away from vistory, but Ai managed to come through this one with a 3/6; 7/5; 6/4 result.

Afterwards she teamed up with Kim and won two matches in doubles - semifinal and final. Thankfully for the Japanese, those two encounters were two-setters.

"After winning the first doubles we were feeling good, and we thought that tomorrow we might be feeling tired, so I wanted to play today, Kim was playing good and we both wanted to play, so we went back out on the court." Sugiyama said.

Over the last few years Ai has been playing doubles mostly with Katarina Srebotnik, Elena Dementieva and Daniela Hantuchova, all of which were present during Sugiyama's farewell ceremony.

Hantuchova held an emotional speech, where she couldn't hold up tears.

Sugiyama will not only be remembered for her speed around the court, unconventional forehand and fantastic serve and volley abilities, but what's more importnant - for her positive attitude, kind heart, amazing sportsmanship and a never fading smile. Just what an amazing person she is, underlined the fact, that many of her greatest doubles rivals were present during the ceremony.

She was a role model and will be greatly missed.

Goodbye Ai :((((


No comments: